Universal Pre-K Admission: Deadline & Tips for New York Families

Universal Pre-K Admission, preschool table

Get ready for universal Pre-K admission! If your child was born in 2016 and you want to enroll them in a Pre-K, it’s time to get going on the application process! The Pre-K for All program in New York is the most competitive in the state so you might as well start preparing for it now. Applications for Pre-K are from February 5, 2020 – March 16, 2020 for all public Pre-K schools in New York. Here are some useful tips to help you in the application process.

Early Start

Create your MySchools application as soon as possible and get the most up-to-date information about Pre-K programs. The Department of Education (DOE) invites all parents to start planning their children’s application in advance. You can create an account on the MySchools platform and then apply to all public schools from 3-K to high school. Get started by creating an account. A great option when you register early is to explore your children’s personalized school options categorized by neighborhood, accessibility for children with disabilities, and admission methods. The Department of Education guides the admissions process from start to finish in 10 different languages to facilitate an easy application process for parents.

Looking to browse through some preschool options? Check out our preschool 2020 guide throughout New York City!

universal pre-k admission, child playing

Choose a Program Type

Parents can pick from three types of institutions for Pre-K programs:

1. NYC Early Education Centers (NYCEECs). These community-based associations with early childhood expertise partner with the DOE to provide Pre-K programs for members.

2. District Schools. Some public elementary schools have Pre-K programs. Consider DOE public schools if your child currently attends 3-K at the school, has an older sibling already in the school, or you want your child to have a more academic curriculum in an elementary school setting.

3. Pre-K Centers. Pre-K Centers are administered by DOE staff and only offer grades before kindergarten. These centers focus on continuity of education for children who currently attend 3-K, or if you prefer your kid to participate in a program with only young children.

kid reading a book

Pre-K Application Tips

Don’t worry if you are not an Early Bird Pre-K admission because it is not first come, first served! You can make changes to your application any time before the March 16 deadline. All applications submitted by this deadline are treated the same based on admissions priorities. With the deadline just a few weeks away, there is a lot to be done. Here are some useful tips for New York parents.

Create a Family Account

MySchools platform permits you to enlist all children in one account, even if they are not applying to a public school. That gives the applicant an admission priority for siblings; you can rely on this in case of close competition (which is very common in New York). The embedded calendar sends you reminders about all critical deadlines and updates.

Study School’s Priorities

Parents can choose up to 12 different programs and order them, starting from the most desired. It’s essential to know what are your favorite schools’ priorities for the next academic year’s selection. Most of the institutions prefer to enroll kids who already have siblings in the program, those who wish to transfer internally to the next program, children from the neighborhood who live in the school’s “geographic zone,” and English language learners if the school is bilingual. 

Make Your Informed Choice

The best way to get information about the quality of education in the Pre-Ks is the School Quality Snapshot. The report provides background information on about 1800 public schools, the strengths of the school through multiple measures, including data from the Quality Review of NYC School Survey, and through Performance Metrics.

School counselors and Family Centers could also provide you with useful information, so you find the best fit for your child. New York Education Experts have additional data about required documents, universal deadline, and Pre-K application tips for parents.

DOE issued an Application guide 2020 with detailed descriptions about every step of the application process, but if you want to keep up with the latest updates, sign up for the DOE admissions email list. Whenever you have questions, DOE is ready to answer directly on the phone 718-935-2009, or text “nycschools” to 877-877 to receive updates on your phone.

colored pencils

What if I miss the deadline?

If you miss the first deadline for any reason, it doesn’t mean it’s over. You may apply in the “second round” of admissions in May. There is no set date for the second deadline since New York schools will send offers to the selected student from April to May. Depending on the free spots, Pre-K programs continue to make waitlist offers through the start of the school year.

This round is for all kids who didn’t get into their preferred institution during the first round and were automatically transferred to the waiting list. Remember Pre-K options during the second round will be limited, so if you found the best match for you and your child, don’t wait.

In case, you moved to New York after the application process is over, go directly to a Family Welcome Center, mail [email protected] or call 718-935-2009.